Joint Media Release: Western Victorian Cross-bench MPs must support their volunteer firefighters

This week the Andrews Labor Government released the 2019 version of their Bill to break apart the CFA and to deny cancer compensation to most volunteer firefighters.

Across Western Victoria, almost all CFA brigades are 100% volunteer, so this legislation makes them second class citizens when it comes to cancer compensation. The legislation also transfers all paid CFA staff, including the vital brigade support staff out of the CFA.

Ever since the government proposed this model – a model rejected by their then Minister Jane Garrett, rejected by the CFA Board, rejected by the volunteer’s association the VFVB, and rejected by the overwhelming majority of CFA volunteers – the government has failed to properly consult or properly listen. Nothing has changed.

Liberal and National MPs across Western Victoria reject this attack on the very brigades and firefighters who have always formed the backbone of firefighting in this highly fire-prone region. We stand with the volunteers and the country communities they protect.

Upper House Crossbench MPs weren’t in the Parliament last time around, but it is imperative they support equal treatment of volunteer and career firefighters for cancer compensation. It’s also imperative that they act to support the structure that volunteers support – which is not what is in this Bill.

Country communities depend on all their elected representatives to act in their best interests, not as lackeys for the government.

Comments attributed to Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell MP

This is an opportunity for Andy Meddick to extend his repertoire and stand up for the majority of the community he represents – not just the vocal minority. The future of our CFA volunteers in South West Coast is under threat, and Andy Meddick can put a stop to it.

Comments attributed to Member for Lowan Emma Kealy MP

Lowan has some of the most fire-prone parts of the State including the Grampians, Little Desert and Wyperfield Nationals Parks and many State parks. Our 110 volunteer only CFA brigades do an amazing job – they are always first on the scene and provide the vital surge capacity we rely on to keep our people and property safe. The Nationals and Liberal parties will always support and protect our brave CFA volunteer firefighters who risk their lives to protect us.

Comments Attributed to Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan MP

The seat of Polwarth has some of the highest bush and grass fire districts. From the volcanic plains to the wild Otway Ranges it is entirely serviced by volunteer CFA brigades who have put their lives on the line for decades.  All political representatives are duty bound to support the 1000’s of volunteers and their families that our communities rely on to keep them safe

Comments attributed to Member for Ripon Louise Staley MP

Ripon has over 90 all-volunteer brigades, and their firefighters must have access to the same cancer compensation as career firefighters. Andy Meddick and Stuart Grimley need to support Ripon’s volunteer firefighters and the existing CFA structure.

Comments attributed to Member for Western Region Beverley McArthur MLC

If it wasn’t for the CFA volunteers, lives would have been lost in the St Patrick’s Day fires in Western Victoria Region, so it is incumbent on all elected Western Region Upper House Members, including Mr Grimley and Mr Meddick to do all in their power to support our wonderful CFA volunteers.

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